Newly qualified teachers: 'The ethos is of respect and service'

An independent school could give you a larger salary - and discipline might be less of an issue, says Sara Bubb
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The Independent Online

New teachers can - but don't have to - do their induction year in the independent sector, and if the rules are followed it counts in the same way as in the state sector. Mind you, offering induction is not compulsory for independent schools, so check whether the school is eligible and offers it. The school must teach the national curriculum and have what's called an 'Appropriate Body' to oversee the process. In independent schools, this will be either a local authority or the Independent Schools Council Teacher Induction Panel.

Liz Bailey teaches Spanish at Surbiton High School, a large independent school in southwest London. She enjoyed her teaching experiences in state schools when she did her PGCE at the University of London's Institute of Education, but feels she's made a great decision. She loves the status modern foreign languages have in her school and gets on well with the girls she teaches. She gets paid on the United Church Schools Trust pay scale, which is slightly more than she'd get in the maintained sector.

People had warned her that induction in an independent school might not be very well organised but she's found the opposite. She's one of five people undergoing induction at Surbiton High and they get a great deal. Liz was appointed from 1 July so she could get to know the school, staff and systems before September, and didn't have to take a summer job to survive until first pay cheque. In fact, the school paid for her to go on a three week university course in Spain over the summer. As well as the usual newly qualified teacher (NQT) entitlement, such as the 10 per cent reduced timetable, she has a professional mentor and monitoring and support from a deputy head who used to be a teacher educator at Roehampton and Kings. The training she gets is tailored to her needs: for instance, there isn't much on behaviour management because it's not a big issue in the classes she teaches.

Headteacher, Dr Jennifer Longhurst says, "New teachers benefit from working in a community where respect and service to others is the ethos and with highly motivated students who are keen to learn."

She believes in supporting new teachers and helping their professional development: "Being an NQT in a school like Surbiton High School can be the best start for a teaching career."

However, new teachers' experiences vary according to which schools they work in. People who apply to an independent school need to find out what they'll get paid and exactly what their job will involve, as well as what induction provision there is. John Richardson, the national official for independent schools at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, says "From our 2004 survey of teachers across the independent sector, we found that 60 per cent worked more than 50 hours a week and 85 per cent felt excessive workloads had an detrimental effect on their home life."

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